Roanoke Times Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: THURSDAY, June 21, 1990 TAG: 9006210293 SECTION: VIRGINIA PAGE: B-3 EDITION: METRO SOURCE: DAVID M. POOLE and MONICA DAVEY STAFF WRITERS DATELINE: BEDFORD LENGTH: Medium
Soering, 23, is charged with the gruesome stabbing deaths of his girlfriend's parents in 1985. Prosecutors allege that Soering killed retired Canadian industrialist Derek Haysom and his wife, Nancy, at their Boonsboro house on March 30, 1985.
Testimony ended Tuesday on the 12th day of a trial that has been beamed into living rooms across Western Virginia thanks to the presence of television cameras in Bedford Circuit Court.
The first surprise came during opening arguments, when Soering's lawyers told the jury that evidence in the case would show the killer was not Soering, but his former girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom.
Over the next eight days, Bedford County prosecutor James Updike methodically built his case with the testimony of forensic experts who testified about the multiple stab wounds inflicted upon the Haysoms and what investigators found in the Haysoms' house - from blood stains to beer cans in a bedroom wastebasket.
On June 13, the courtroom was packed when Updike called Elizabeth Haysom to the stand. Haysom had cropped her hair short since she pleaded guilty in 1987 to helping plot her parents' murders and was sentenced to 90 years in prison.
Updike, who had bullied Haysom during her testimony in 1987, treated his star witness with courtesy and even fetched her a glass of water.
Haysom, now 26, told jurors that she set up an alibi for Soering during a weekend trip to Washington, D.C., during their freshman year at the University of Virginia. Soering, she said, drove to Boonsboro and killed her parents.
Under two hours of cross-examination, Haysom admitted that she had fed Soering a steady diet of lies to turn him against her parents. She also admitted changing details about the murder weekend from the version she told at her sentencing hearing in October 1987. But she stuck to her contention that Soering killed her parents.
The prosecution rested its case Friday, leading to a weekend of speculation about whether Soering would testify in his own defense.
Soering was eager to tell his side of the story when he was called to the witness stand Monday. Soering told essentially the same story as Haysom - but with their roles reversed. Soering testified that Haysom took time out from their Washington trip to settle a drug deal. She returned several hours later and said that she had killed her parents, Soering said.
Soering, the son of a West German diplomat, said he agreed to take the blame for his lover. If arrested, Soering thought he would be deported to Germany, while she would face the electric chair.
"I loved the girl," Soering testified. "The decision to protect Elizabeth was immediate."
Under cross-examination, Updike tried to show that Soering's story did not add up, in light of allusions to murder found in letters that Soering and Haysom exchanged before and after the killings.
After the defense rested Tuesday, Circuit Judge William Sweeney called a one-day recess. After closing arguments today, jurors are to begin deliberations, which could start as early as noon.
The jurors - seven men and seven women - have made daily commutes to the trial from Nelson County. Sweeney agreed to bring in a jury from outside Bedford County because of pretrial publicity.